Cleat Geeks

What we’re talking about after the Premier League weekend

After another frenetic Premier League weekend that yielded 31 goals from 10 matches, here are the three key talking points:

1) Steven Gerrard: Gone in 40 seconds

Somehow I think we all knew that the Liverpool vs Manchester United game would throw up a major incident. The two old rivals went into the game embroiled in the scrap for Champions League football next season, with United fourth in the table just two points ahead of their hosts who sat one place behind. With Steven Gerrard LA Galaxy-bound come the summer, this would be the former England skipper’s last involvement in the fixture. However, he started the game from the bench, watching on as United dominated the opening half of the match. Louis Van Gaal’s men were comfortable in possession, crisply knocking the ball around and controlling the tempo of the game. Juan Mata had put the Red Devils ahead by half-time and the home fans were crying out for their captain to enter the fray for the second 45 minutes. mata

On he came, and the Anfield faithful were audibly more supportive of their side, creating a cauldron of noise in an attempt to lift their team’s performance. Gerrard was suitably geed up too, knowing this was his last stand against the old enemy. In fact he was too fired up for the encounter and, when Ander Herrera slid in strongly to dispossess the 34 year-old, Gerrard reacted by stamping on the Spaniard’s leg. Referee Martin Atkinson had seen it and reached for the red card – just 40 seconds after Gerrard had entered the action.

gutThe distraught look on the man who sits in third place on Liverpool’s all time record appearance lists’ face said it all. This was an opportunity to sign off with a parting shot to United, and to help propel his club into Champions League football for next season. United went on to win 2-1 against ten man Liverpool, and even Wayne Rooney’s late penalty miss didn’t overshadow Gerrard’s indiscretion.

“I need to accept it; the decision was right. I’ve let down my team-mates and the fans. I take full responsibility,” Gerrard told Sky Sports. “I don’t know what caused it. Probably just a reaction to the initial tackle [by Herrera]. I shouldn’t say more about it really. I’ve just come out here to apologise to the dressing room and supporters.”

Now Liverpool find themselves in fifth place, five points behind United who occupy the last Champions League place. As for Gerrard, he faces a three match ban for the straight red card, leaving the Liverpool legend with only six games left in his Anfield career.

2) Who are ya…..?

Neil Swarbrick became the latest referee to forget to put his contact lenses in as he sent off the wrong West Brom player as the Baggies were swept aside 3-0 at Manchester City. mcauley

The incident occurred only two minutes into the game, when a stray back pass by McAuley saw Wilfried Bony running past West Brom’s other centre-back, Craig Dawson, who fouled the Ivorian outside the box. Bony got up and resumed his chase for the ball, where the recovering McAuley dispossessed him in the penalty area. Swarbrick blew for the first foul – Dawson’s challenge outside the box, but showed the red card to his team mate McAuley. The Northern Ireland international protested his innocence but the ref wouldn’t be swayed and McAuley had to walk.

Earlier in the season, Roger East sent Wes Brown off for a foul committed by his team mate John O’Shea in Sunderland’s defeat at Old Trafford; and in March last year Kieran Gibbs saw red for Arsenal following an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain handball that prevented a goal.

In fairness, on this occasion a West Brom centre-half had to go, so City’s dominance was inevitable even if Swarbrick dismissed the right man. Also, to the official’s credit, he apologised for the case of mistaken identity after he had reviewed the game.

Surely this can only add more weight to those arguing the case for video replays in the game – but that’s a debate for another day.

3) Kane more than able

kane

It has been quite the week for Tottenham’s Harry Kane, called up to the senior England squad for the first time in the week followed by a hat-trick against Leicester on Saturday.

Let’s be honest, it’s been a sensational season for the 21 year-old. In 33 appearances for Spurs this season he has scored 31 goals, 19 of them in the Premier League which makes him the joint top scorer in the division. You just can’t argue with form like that.

Roy Hodgson has understandably called him up to the England set up for the Euro 2016 qualifier with Lithuania and the friendly with Italy, and this seems like the perfect time to let the striker loose on the international stage. Lithuania should offer little resistance to England and the form Kane is in should make him one of the first names on the team sheet.

He did look tired in last week’s defeat at Manchester United, so maybe don’t play him against the Italians. Let Kane lay down the gauntlet to the likes of Sturridge, Rooney and Welbeck before giving him a break and the opportunity for the other English forwards to impress in the friendly match.

Kane looks like he will be in and around the England set up for the next 10-15 years, so ease him into it against Lithuania at a time when he just can’t stop scoring goals.

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